[October 2011 Update: At BlizzCon 2011, Blizzard was asked what had happened to the remains of Arthas, Kael'thas, and Illdian. Blizzard's answer?
"It is likely we will bring Illidan back, not so much for Kael'thas, he already had his come back. Arthas's body is somewhere but we don't really know where."
So... looks like we'll be seeing Illidan again. Very nice.]
It was a great shock to a lot of fans of WoW’s lore that Illidan Stormrage actually dies when you defeat him at the end of Black Temple. This was doubly surprising when taking into account Chris Metzen at Blizzcon 2005 who said we’d only be “slowing him down”.
So there’s the question? Is Illidan really dead? Is his active participation in Warcraft’s lore over?
I don’t think so, and it simply comes down to this… from a storytelling standpoint, his arch is not yet complete and he is a character primed for redemption. Corruption and redemption are two exceptionally prevalent themes in Warcraft’s lore and I can’t believe Metzen would waste utilizing that theme on such a popular character who was ready for it.
As far as Illidan’s arch goes, remember, Illidan is THE demon hunter the same way his brother Malfurion is THE druid. Illidan is also the reason for the well of eternity and therefore substantially responsible for Azeroth’s most recent confrontation with the Burning Legion. Kil’Jaeden leads the Burning Legion for Sargeras and is the lore’s most powerful demon.
Demon Hunter & Demon
Cause of the Invasion & Leader of the Invasion
See where I’m going with this?
It only makes sense that Warcraft’s most powerful demon hunter would be the one to defeat the most powerful demon; especially now that the lore has made it personal.
As far as Illidan’s death goes, as a writer I can tell you that bringing a character back to life is one of the easiest retcons imaginable. And it doesn’t even necessarily require a retcon. Is Illidan dead, or is his soul now a prisoner of Kil’Jaeden as Ner’zhul’s once was?
So what would the context and catalyst be for such a fight?
Remember, Illidan has done hideous, horrible things, but there is one element of his being that has always remained pure, selfless, and true, his unquestioning love for Tyrande.
If Kil’Jaeden hurt Tyrande, Illidan would kill him. Simple as that. Dead or not. The rest is just filling in the blanks.
And by killing Kil’Jaeden, Illidan would finally reach redemption and complete his character’s arch. Because of this, I don’t think Illidan would survive the fight either and this would be his real end.
Such a battle would likely rival even Grom vs. Mannoroth.
You are not prepared!
Update: At the BlizzCon 2010 Lore Panel, the following question and answer were given…
Will we ever see a redemption or resurrection of Illidan as a Character?
BOY DO I WANT TO DO THAT. That’d be badass. I don’t think anyone at all has ever talked about that. But I love that shit. I’m a sucker for a good redemption story. Except Arthas. Not Arthas. He’s dead.
So… “anyone at all”? Maybe at Blizzard, but not around here with Loregy’s readers.